Thought it might be worth sharing a photo of the bluebells in Priory Grove woods, near Monmouth.
Redbrook Walk, a set on Flickr.
This morning I walked from my home in Wales across the border into England, specifically the village of Redbrook in the Wye Valley. these are some HDR shots taken with my iPhone using the TrueHDR app.
We stayed here recently and I though it might be worth sharing our experiences.
More a restaurant with rooms or a boutique hotel, the owners of The Drawing Room set very high standards of presentation, decor, comfort and cooking, without being stuffy or overly formal. If you are staying in the area and can afford it, I’d recommend this over one of the larger hotels in Builth or Llandrindod Wells, particularly if you like elegance and peace and quiet.
The rooms are decorated in pastel shades with hand-made wallpapers and furniture in keeping with the archtiectural era of the house. Sumptuously thick materials suggest no expense was spared in getting the curtains and bedcovers right. There were more pillows and cushions than I could imagine using. Bad luck meant we weren’t able to get one of the larger rooms, but ours did not feel cramped.
As for the food, starters of a sort of crab timballe and a seafood meunière were competent and tasty while not dramatically good. The main courses delivered on their promise though. I had a Tournedos of Welsh Beef with caramelized Shallot “Tarte Tatin”, Potato and Root Vegetable Pavé, Horseradish and Parsley Cream and Beef Jus with Oxtail while Mrs Monnowman had a haunch of venison with sweet potato and asparagus. Both were very good, though of the two I was glad I had gone for the beef: the shallot tarte tatin was a revelation.
Cappuccino Mousse was a very grown up (read: “not too sweet”) dessert for Mrs M. while I went for the Toasted Pine Nut & Honey Tart with poached Figs and “Glaslyn” Estate Wild Flower Honey Ice-cream: a delightful combination of flavours and textures.
The passion of the proprietor chef for good, local ingredients, sympathetically cooked, is obvious in the richness of flavours delivered without the food becoming over-contrived in that fashionably- Michelin-starred way.
Only quibbles were the request in the literature not to drink your own alcohol in the rooms (you are asked to buy their -very expensive- stuff); we could easily hear our neighbours in the adjacent room; and the hostess, when serving food, said “thank you” too often!
But these are minor niggles. We really enjoyed our stay and the food was very good: recommended.
Autumn is here. I know this because I have started wearing my waxed jacket and turning on the heating in the car during the morning drive to work. Oh, and I suppose nature is sending the obvious signals too, like turning leaves a different colour. I expect the Wye Valley will be glorious in a week or two. I don’t resent the onset of Autumn with its leaden skies and winds as I used to: the landscape around here is still beautiful.
K and I have signed up for a thirty-week course of evening classes in Welsh, on Friday nights (yes, Fridays!). Not sure why my lovely wife is doing it: probably to humour me. I’m doing it a) to get me out of the house b) to stimulate the little grey cells and c) (this is the really pretentious one) because I’m trying to make a connection with the language that used to be spoken in these islands before the Saxons arrived. My colleagues and elder daughter think I’m mad, but I insist I’m not trying to be pretentious. A possible d) might be because, as an immigrant to Wales (by quarter of a mile or so) and as a sometime linguist, I think it’s only polite to try learn the language of the country one inhabits.
Oh, and I’ve started a course in barbershop/acapella singing with a local male chorus on Tuesday nights. I am singing “bom, bo-bum-bum bom bum” so much around the house that little A. thinks that particular phrase is one she should add to her vocabulary. The latter, incidentally, has now, at K’s reckoning, about a hundred words. Little A. will soon start putting them together in two’s! Most charming is the way Little A. says “goodbye” which varies with the person concerned. “Goodbye Daddy” is “Da-da-da-da-da-da Daddy”, while “Goodbye Granny” is “Na-na-na-na-na-na-nanny”. “Finished” is “finith” and “Here, take this” has become “fankoo”.
We are looking for a place to buy in Monmouth. Hard work as we don’t want to compromise and Monmouth is pricey. British houses are so small and overpriced! If you ever visit us and you come from another country, yes, small houses with low ceilings and tiny front lawns are the norm and no, we don’t like it either.